Significant Visa Reforms Expected to Shape 2024 in Australia
In a significant development, the Australian government has revealed its comprehensive plan to reform the country's immigration system, bringing about substantial changes this year 2024.
The strategy, introduced by Home Affairs Minister Clare O'Neil in early December, includes a range of new commitments primarily centered on the areas of temporary skilled migration and international education.
Looking towards the future, the government has identified key areas for further enhancements, including permanent skilled migration, regional migration, and the Working Holiday Maker program. These areas are set to undergo thorough consultation and review throughout 2024, reflecting the government's commitment to addressing various aspects of the immigration system.
The unveiling of this ambitious strategy marks a significant step forward for the Albanese government as it seeks to proactively address the evolving needs of the immigration landscape, promising a transformative year for immigration policy in 2024.
Summary of the Key Australian Visa Changes for 2024
Below is the summary of key changes to be made in the Australian immigration strategy.
1. Migration Strategy Goals
- The goal is to reduce net overseas migration levels to 375,000 in the 2023-24 financial year and then to 250,000 in 2024-25.
- The strategy aims to decrease the amount of long-term temporary visa holders, increase pathways to permanent residency, and address issues with the migration system in a meaningful way.
2. Employer-Sponsored Visas
- A new four-year temporary skilled worker visa will replace the current Temporary Skill Shortage visa, offering workers more opportunities to change employers and providing pathways to permanent residency.
- This change aims to make employer sponsorship more accessible, with faster processing times.
3. Skills in Demand Visa
- The new 'Skills in Demand' visa will be available to highly skilled migrants earning at least $135,000, with a median visa processing time of seven days.
- Another pathway will be available to most temporary skilled migrants listed on a Core Skills Occupation List, with earnings meeting the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold.
4. English Language Tests and Student Visas
- The government is raising English language requirements for student and temporary graduate visas, aiming to improve the quality of students' educational experience and reduce potential workplace exploitation.
- A new 'Genuine Student Test' will be introduced to incentivize genuine student applications.
5. Temporary Graduate Visas
Changes will include an age limit for visa applicants (under 35), a reduced initial visa duration, and eligibility for a second visa for students in regional areas.
6. Phased Out COVID Concessions
- COVID concessions, including the Pandemic Event Visa and uncapped working hours for international students, will be phased out to help bring migration numbers to near-pre-pandemic levels.
- A new visa for Pacific migrants, the Pacific Engagement Visa, will be introduced with a quota of 3,000 migrants per year.
7. Australia's Residency Program
- The residency program, announced by Pacific Pat Conroy, is set to begin in 2024 pending final legislative and administrative approvals.
- The program aims to offer priority processing for Protection Visa applicants, strengthen the refugee visa system, and regulate migration for lower-paid workers with essential skills.
8. Migration Agenda in 2024
- The government plans to focus on areas such as reshaping permanent skilled migration, regional migration, and the Working Holiday Maker program to support the regions and its workers.
- A discussion paper on the migration agenda is expected to be released early in the year.
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1. What are the main goals of the Australian government's migration strategy for 2024?
The main goals include reducing net overseas migration levels, addressing issues with the migration system, increasing pathways to permanent residency, and decreasing the number of long-term temporary visa holders.
2. What changes are being introduced for employer-sponsored visas in Australia?
A new four-year temporary skilled worker visa is set to replace the current Temporary Skill Shortage visa, allowing workers more opportunities to change employers and providing pathways to permanent residency. These changes aim to make employer sponsorship more accessible with faster processing times.
3. What is the new 'Skills in Demand' visa in Australia, and who is eligible for it?
The 'Skills in Demand' visa will be available to highly skilled migrants earning at least $135,000, with a median visa processing time of seven days. Additionally, most temporary skilled migrants listed on a Core Skills Occupation List, with earnings meeting the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold, will have another pathway available to them.
4. What changes are being made to English language tests and student visas in Australia?
The government plans to raise English language requirements for student and temporary graduate visas to improve the quality of students' educational experience and reduce potential workplace exploitation. Additionally, a new 'Genuine Student Test' will be introduced to encourage genuine student applications.
5. How is Australia planning to handle the phased-out COVID concessions and support migration from the Pacific region?
Australia is phasing out COVID concessions, including the Pandemic Event Visa and uncapped working hours for international students, to help bring migration numbers closer to pre-pandemic levels. Furthermore, a new visa for Pacific migrants called the Pacific Engagement Visa will be introduced, with a quota of 3,000 migrants per year.